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NRI life in prison by Jury for university shooting

Cleveland, Jan 22, 2005
Dayton Daily

A jury Sunday recommended life in prison without parole for a former graduate student who fatally shot another student and wounded two others during a seven-hour siege inside Case Western Reserve University's business school.

NRI, Biswanath Halder was convicted last month of killing Norman Wallace during the 2003 shooting spree and standoff.

He could have received the death penalty, but the jury rejected the ultimate sentence during two days of deliberations. Judge Peggy Foley Jones, who must formally decide Halder's fate, put off sentencing until Feb. 17.

Psychologists had testified that Halder is sane but delusional, and his attorneys argued that the 65-year-old's life should be spared because he is mentally ill. Defense attorneys acknowledged he was the gunman.

"We're just happy they (the jury) fell on the side of giving him life," defense attorney Kevin Cafferkey said. "But he will serve the rest of life in prison, and will never, ever leave a jail cell and I feel comfortable with that."

Halder, originally from Calcutta, India, attacked the school armed with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition because he believed a school computer lab employee hacked into his Web site devoted to helping fellow India natives form businesses, prosecutors say.

"Biswanath Halder's offenses were horrific and certainly deserving of the death penalty," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. "While we are disappointed that Mr. Halder will not receive the maximum punishment for his deadly siege, we hope that his victims and their families can take some comfort in the fact that Mr. Halder will never again see the light of day."

Halder didn't testify during the trial. But on Saturday, as Jones had begun giving the jurors sentencing instructions, he stood up and said he wanted to speak to the judge.

In a handwritten letter, Halder told the judge he had wanted to take the stand but his lawyers objected. Jones refused the request, saying he had given her the letter too late in the trial.

"I wanted to talk to the media since June 2003," Halder persisted. "The people who control me have prevented me from doing so."

The former graduate student's delusions included believing that he would earn billions of dollars from his Web site and help change the world, his attorneys said.

During the trial, jurors watched video showing Halder in an Army helmet and flak jacket walk up a university hallway and shoot to death Wallace, who was chatting with a few others about basketball and their summer plans.

Wallace, 30, was a promising student and president of the university's Black MBA Student Association.

The video also showed the gunman kicking and hammering in a glass door to get in the building and people running to escape or to find cover in classrooms, offices and computer labs.

Faculty and staff hid in terror in the Peter B. Lewis Building, not knowing where the gunman was lurking. The search was complicated by the building's unusual design of curvy floors and walls. Halder was captured by a police SWAT team on the fifth floor.

Halder was convicted of 196 counts, including aggravated murder, attempted murder, aggravated burglary and kidnapping.

During the trial, Halder's attorneys portrayed him as obsessed with trying to determine who hacked into his Web site and deleted the files.

Halder was found competent before his trial, but the judge ruled his attorneys could not argue that he is mentally ill as a defense. They were allowed to make that argument during the sentencing phase.

NRI convicted in university shooting-could be sentenced to death

Cleveland, Ohio, May 17, 2005
Rup Sharma

NRI, Biswanath Halder, 62, has been convicted of killing a student in a seven-hour shooting rampage at the Case Reserve Western University, Cleveland, Ohio in May 2003. He had military training with the Indian army.

A prankster hacked into his computer and erased it all. “Everything I had was destroyed,” he said. Halder’s outrage turned into a blizzard of complaints, from the courts to the FBI and Capitol Hill. He blamed the university and a computer lab assistant named Shawn Miller - “the evil man,” as Halder called him. His attorneys did not contest that their client was the gunman; rather they painted a picture of him as being obsessed because someone erased hundreds of his computer files.

Halder sued Miller, but a judge dismissed the case. An appeals court refused to review it. On May of 2003.

Biswanath Halder, armed with two handguns, allegedly killed Norman Wallace, a 30-year-old graduate student who had a summer internship at a consulting firm. The two injured people — a 32-year-old man shot in the buttocks and a 46-year-old woman shot in her collarbone.

Halder was trying to protect “mankind” from a cyber criminal-Link. Biswanath Halder’s Web site was his life. Working at least eight hours a day year-round in the Case Western Reserve University computer lab, he painstakingly compiled the digital equivalent of a bulging file cabinet and hope chest, stuffed with business plans and pleas for social justice.

The resume Halder posts on his Web site includes service in the Indian army, as well as experience in computer programming, designing electrical measuring equipment in Germany, real estate and financial planning. Halder, who graduated from Case Western in 1999 with a master's degree in business administration.

Halder lived in the heart of Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood about a half mile from campus. Some neighbors described him as an unfriendly man who would walk down the middle of the road apparently to avoid talking with them.

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NRI Biswanath Halder